In the world of International Politics there are always disputes where two countries draw a line in the sand and stand firm footed in their opposing policies on a specific issue they both deem important to their countries best interest. Very often Diplomacy is able to overcome the objections and the two sides are able to meet somewhere in the middle. What happens however when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force; I know, a paradoxical situation that can never occur; however, we are in the midst of exactly such a situation in the South China Sea. This is truly one of two issues that I believe are the most likely causes of the unthinkable World War III.
This is Part III of my series of current events that can cause World War III; this time ‘by sea’. You can find Part I and Part II by clicking the following links:
I am not alone in my concern on the South China Sea. In Daniel R. Coats (Director of National Intelligence) Worldwide Threat Assessment, presented annually, he states the following:
“China will continue to pursue an active foreign policy—especially in the Asia Pacific region—highlighted by a firm stance on its sovereignty claims in the East China Sea (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), its relations with Taiwan, and its pursuit of economic engagement across the region. Regional tension will persist due to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and simmering tension over territorial and maritime disputes in the ECS and SCS. China will also pursue efforts aimed at fulfilling its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative to expand China’s economic reach and political influence across Eurasia, Africa, and the Pacific through infrastructure projects.”
Not enough to raise concern…don’t worry, wasn’t enough for me either, but I did what any journalist would do and started researching foreign and domestic publications to see if I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. Although I found the ‘smoking gun’ or ‘smoking guns’ in this case rather quickly; I wanted to understand the dynamics of the conflict a bit more. Why was the U.S. so complacent on the issue in 2017 and why did the Obama administration all but take a back seat to the rising conflict. Was it not important enough to attend to or simply just too much of a powder keg?
According to an article published on The Conversation.com titled Why is the South China Sea so important to the US:
“Leaving the South China Sea to the Chinese would undermine that alliance system and America’s presence in the western Pacific. China would become the dominant power in the area and regional countries would gravitate towards it.”
The South China Sea dispute, for all intents and purposes, is a dispute over a series of islands and a very valuable trade route; there is also the argument of abundant resources in the area; most notably including oil that the Philipines and China are now ‘allegedly’ working together to tap. This, in my opinion, is complete hogwash. In the report published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration article Contested areas of South China Sea likely have few conventional oil and gas resources it is stated:
“Industry sources suggest almost no oil and less than 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas in proved and probable reserves exist in fields near the Spratly Islands. The Paracel Island territory has even less natural gas and no oil.”
So back to the real root of the conflict. First, we must go back to 2012 – 2013 to understand one of the pre-cursors to the current dispute. If we move slightly North to the East China Sea the first major dispute occurred between Japan and China is regards to The Senkaku Islands that are under Japanese control. Japan had purchased a few of the ‘privately owned’ islands in the area which started a Chinese backlash and ultimately resulted in China declaring it a ‘Air Defense Zone’ (for short) and made all planes flying in and out of the area check in with flight plans. As a result, and as verified by Japanese Times in their article Japan’s fighter jet scrambles set new record in 2016 amid surging Chinese military activity:
“The 1,168 scrambles were the most since records began being kept in 1958, besting the previous high of 944 — a figure that came at the height of the Cold War in 1984.
Of the total, 851 scrambles, or 73 percent, came in response to Chinese flights, 280 more than in the previous fiscal year. The figure was the largest since the Air Self-Defense Force began publicizing the number of scrambles against each country.”
So now enter in the theater of the South China Sea and the Spratly & Paracel Islands. Here the war machines of China and the U.S. are in the midst of a deadly cat and mouse game. China has all but taken over a series of islands called The Spratly Islands – yes, by force and without resistance; once under the control of…well this is where is gets a little confusing…the Phillipines, China, Taiwan and Vietnam…kinda. These are all historical sovereignty claims and basically, in this dispute, won by who carries the biggest stick…guess, who…yep, Xi’s China and his growing military might.
So what happens then when the largest threat to the U.S. and it’s allies is about to take over one of the largest trade routes in the world and ultimately gain military superiority in the area over all neighboring countries; trouble, big trouble that the U.S. cannot afford just to back out of although they have done a pretty efficient job over the last several years.
In comes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and the USS Hopper to skim by the newly Chinese controlled islands. This of course does not go unnoticed by the Chinese who issue the following threat about being forced to build its military abilities…that are already built by the way…by News.com.au in their article South China Sea: Beijing threatens military ‘build-up’ to US BEIJING accuses Washington of “provoking trouble” after US warship sails close to contested reef, warning it has no choice but to build up its military
“CHINA will have no choice but to build its abilities in the South China Sea if the United States continues to “wantonly” provoke trouble in the waters, Beijing’s top newspaper has warned.
The response came after a US Navy warship, the USS Hopper, sailed close to a contested reef west of the Philippines last Wednesday, two days before Defence Secretary Jim Mattis unveiled a new strategy calling China and Russia the biggest threats to the US, not terrorism, Fox News reported.
Mr Mattis’ comments come at a time when the Trump administration is working for co-operation with Beijing on North Korea.
“If the relevant party once more makes trouble out of nothing and causes tensions, then it will only cause China to reach this conclusion: in order to earnestly protect peace in the South China Sea, China must strengthen and speed up the building of its abilities there,” The People’s Daily said in the commentary, according to Reuters.”
So, have your attention yet? I am a strong believer that the proof is in the pudding so I am sure your saying by now that Justus is off on his ‘looming World War’ rant again, but are you sure it’s just a rant? Let me show you exactly what China has built and let me know if this is simply a rant or rather a clear and present danger to the global balance of power for our generation.
Here are photographic evidence of the Chinese military build up in the South China Sea:
So, is it time now for the U.S. and it’s allies to take a firmer position on the South China Sea or simply dilly dally until China continues to fortify and ultimately dominate and control a critical trade route and military foothold that will all but make the interior impenetrable and under the complete and total control of China.
Yes, we will have no option but to intervene in what could be the meeting of an immovable object meeting and unstoppable force leading to a devastating World War III.
We must stay awake, be aware, think with an open mind and be vigilant in the defense of our rights, our freedoms and our protection of humanity.